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Tony Burton of 'Rocky' Died at 78 in 2016 – Circumstances of His Death

Pedro Marrero
Jun 08, 2020
02:00 P.M.

After living a long and prolific career, the famous “Duke” from the Rocky movies, died at 78 years old. According to his sister, Loretta Kelly, the actor was in a difficult condition before his death, having to be in and out of the hospital frequently.

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Tony Burton's last film appearance was in 2006 on the fifth movie of the "Rocky" film series. Apparently, it was his precarious health status that stops him from being in the cast of the sixth and last of the films in 2015. However, his image was on the movie posters.

At the time of his death, his family did not give any details about the cause, but soon after, it was known that the actor died of complications from pneumonia.

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Tony Burton poses at the premiere of MGM's "Rocky Balboa" after party held at the Hollywood and Highland Ballroom, on December 13, 2006 in Hollywood, California. I Image: Getty Images.

Tony Burton poses at the premiere of MGM's "Rocky Balboa" after party held at the Hollywood and Highland Ballroom, on December 13, 2006 in Hollywood, California. I Image: Getty Images.

He was 78 years old when he passed away and left his wife, three children, a stepdaughter, and other relatives. Actor Carl Weather, who played Apollo Creed said:

“Sad news. RIP Tony Burton. His intensity and talent helped make the Rocky movies successful.”

Tony Burton and Sylvester Stallone pose at the premiere of MGM's "Rocky Balboa" after party held at the Hollywood and Highland Ballroom, on December 13, 2006 in Hollywood, California. I Image: Getty Images.

Tony Burton and Sylvester Stallone pose at the premiere of MGM's "Rocky Balboa" after party held at the Hollywood and Highland Ballroom, on December 13, 2006 in Hollywood, California. I Image: Getty Images.

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BOXING YEARS

Anthony Mabron Burton (Tony’s real name) was born in Flint, Michigan, on March 23, 1937. He graduated from Flint Northern High School and played football and baseball there.

He started boxing as an amateur and won two Flint Golden Gloves light-heavyweight titles, in 1955 and 1957. Burton fought professionally in the light-heavyweight division from 1958 to 1959 before retiring.

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ACTING START

When he moved to Los Angeles, Burton struggled with the law and had to serve three and a half years at an institution in California. It was there where his interest in acting began and found a new path in his life. When he got out, he obtained his university degree and took several courses on TV and radio.

After a couple of years playing supporting roles in TV productions, Burton had the exceptional opportunity to play Tony “Duke” Evers, the tough coach and trainer of boxer Apollo Creed, in "Rocky”. Years later, and after the film’s great success, he would return again with the same role in "Rocky II”.

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LONG CAREER

Besides Rocky, Burton’s film appearances include such classic films as "The Shining" by Stanley Kubrick, and "Stir Crazy." Television productions have also been major stones in his career, as he was a regular cast member on series like "Frank’s Place", "Chicago Hope", "Sanford and Son," and "The Rockford Files."

Tony Burton was also known for being a man with strong faith. Over the years, he led himself to be a deacon at the Mount Hebron Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles.

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